Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 15, 2018 


Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: More testimony on Ohio's "anti-protest" bill; and we'll take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

Daily Newscasts

Bill to Slow Agribusiness Mega-Mergers Supported by Farmers, Ranchers

Minnesota is an active state for meatpacking jobs, but farmers and ranchers worry that industry mega-mergers are allowing companies to exploit both producers and consumers. (bls.gov)
Minnesota is an active state for meatpacking jobs, but farmers and ranchers worry that industry mega-mergers are allowing companies to exploit both producers and consumers. (bls.gov)
September 4, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A group of ranchers and cattle producers is throwing its weight behind a U.S. Senate bill that would temporarily stop mega-mergers in the agriculture sector.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, would put a moratorium on farm and food business mergers until the U.S. Department of Justice more actively enforces anti-trust laws.

Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, which represents independent cattle producers, says a small number of meatpackers have so much control over the market that they are exploiting both producers and consumers.

"They're paying producers for less than what the competitive market would dictate and charging consumers whatever the market will bear,” he points out. “We need to restore competition, and this bill is absolutely essential."

Four meatpackers control 85 percent of the beef market, 74 percent of pork and 54 percent of poultry, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Booker's bill is modeled after legislation introduced in 1999 by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and would be in effect for 18 months, or until comprehensive legislation is passed.

For the first time in decades, the Justice Department halted a merger in 2008 in the meatpacking industry, but hasn't stopped any mergers since.

Bullard says two of the four meatpackers that control the vast majority of the market are Brazilian companies, and these companies have been known to cut corners on food safety.

"This is just another example of how dominant meatpackers, when given the tremendous market control that they now possess, can use that control to maximize their profits, but on the backs of independent cattle producers and consumers," he states.

The Senate bill also would create the Food and Agriculture Concentration and Market Power Review Commission to review mergers and acquisitions.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN